Constitutional Law

Alabama chief justice: Federal ruling on gay marriage doesn't bind state judges

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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore claims in a letter to the governor that a federal court ruling striking down the state’s gay-marriage ban doesn’t bind Alabama judges.

Moore’s letter (PDF) to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said he stood with the governor “to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.” How Appealing links to coverage, including stories in Reuters, and the Montgomery Advertiser.

Moore wrote that the institution of marriage is being destroyed by federal courts using “specious pretexts” such as the equal protection, due process and full faith and credit clauses. “As you know, nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage,” he said.

“I note that ‘United States district court decisions are not controlling authority in this court,’ ” Moore wrote, citing an Alabama decision on the duty to warn of hazardous conditions.

University of Alabama law professor Ronald Krotoszynski saw no merit in Moore’s assertion. “There is no credible legal argument that an order from a federal judge with jurisdiction over a matter isn’t binding on a state government,” he told Reuters.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade struck down the gay-marriage ban on Friday, but issued a 14-day stay of the ruling.

It’s not the first time Moore defied court rulings. He was ousted from the state’s top court in 2003 for his refusal to obey a federal judge’s order that he remove a Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the state judicial building. He was re-elected to the court in 2012.

Subsequent coverage: “Complaint targets Alabama chief justice’s vow to fight ‘tyranny’ of gay-marriage rulings”

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